A while back I noted that we were going to start making use of poker chips for tracking various things, particularly hit points. Though we haven’t played as much in the past month or so as we would have liked, we have managed a few games here and there with the chips, so here’s a quick update.
Honestly, the hit point tracking idea hasn’t seemed terribly useful. Though we’ve tried it, the results have been nothing to write home about. Though combat isn’t uncommon, the vast majority of our playing time is spent in exploring, not fighting, and the amount of damage being taken isn’t so great that a quick tracking aid like poker chips makes much of a difference. I can still see with a large number of players, each with their PCs hit points laid out at the table, that it might be nice. But not for our small games, which are often one-on-one these days.
However, one place where we’ve been liking the chips has been in tracking time in the dungeon. We’ve been using red chips to represent turns and black chips to represent hours. I keep five red chips behind the screen, and as we play, I simply add one to the stack at the appropriate time. When it’s time for another, I put another black one out and pull the five back.
What this does is make it easy for me to track it and makes it easy for players to be aware of the passage of time. No more “What do you mean we’re getting thirsty? We’ve only been down here an hour, haven’t we?” after four and a half hours of dungeon delving because the players haven’t been keeping track or paying attention and no more “It’s getting late. You begin to wonder if maybe it’s time to had back to the surface.” from me when I see that they’ve been down there for eight hours and need to nudge them into realizing that they’re probably getting ready for a break.
Now, they can see time pass and if they want to overstay, that’s their call.